Tesla Now Building Cars in Tents Outside the Factory Walls

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

As has been reported to death by every media outlet in history, including this one, Tesla needs to build more Model 3s to hit its production goals. Apparently, to reach its targets, the brand has resorted to assembling the vehicle in a series of tents that extend from the factory doors.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo of the company’s very first Model 3 Dual Motor Performance being finished at the location Saturday afternoon. “Amazing work by Tesla team,” he said. “Built entire new general assembly line in 3 weeks [with] minimal resources. Love u guys so much! Pic of 1st Model 3 dual motor performance coming off the line…”

Since everyone beneath it is gainfully employed, this is probably the best tent city we’ve seen crop up in California in quite a while. But the outdoor line is a little confusing, considering the scope the company’s Fremont facility — and Tesla still hasn’t come close to matching the production volumes witnessed when the factory was known as the NUMMI joint between Toyota and General Motors.

Until now, nobody has assumed space was a major issue. But the automaker has expanded the site quite a bit over the years (despite only needing a fraction of the total space after purchasing it in 2010) and it intends to keep doing so. Tesla has said that it eventually intends to double the plant’s 5.3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space — which doesn’t include the similarly large Gigafactory in Nevada.

Whether or not this is a complete production line is unknown. Eagle-eyed dreamboat Bozi Tatarevic noted that the line didn’t appear to be automated and speculated that the automaker could simply finish all-wheel drive Model 3’s outside after the majority of the work had been completed inside. He also commented upon its shoddy construction.

However Musk referred to it as an “entirely new general assembly line,” meaning we should see Model 3 production come up quite a bit over the summer. If we don’t, then that will encourage future aspersions upon anything else the CEO has to say on the matter. For what it’s worth, aerial shots of the line do show it looking rather massive. Let’s just hope it’s well constructed.

I guess they were in a bit of a hurry and missed/damaged a few anchor bolts. pic.twitter.com/ksUZw629me

— Bozi Tatarevic (@hoonable) June 16, 2018

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Stanley Steamer Stanley Steamer on Jun 18, 2018

    There's something heroic and romantic about a fledgling automaker struggling to survive, pulling out all the stops to get the job done. If they have a loyal following to help them along, more power to them. I think it's one of the required ingredients to survive in this field, going back to the early 1900's. I'm sure most know that there were literally hundreds of automakers over the past 120 years. Why does everyone hate to see a newcomer in this market grab a foothold?

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    • Geozinger Geozinger on Jun 18, 2018

      @30-mile fetch I could understand the criticism were we talking about GM anywhere between the mid 1970's and 2009, for example. (And honestly, GM has done a good job of putting out solid, if unexciting cars since the BK.) For the most part, Musk and Tesla have been pumping out cars with that are US assembled and with an American flavor that are desired all across the globe. You have to have a few miles on your chassis to realize that's it's been some people's lifetimes since that was a phenomenon. Maybe not since the Airflow or 1950's Cadillacs... Again, I don't believe the guy should go without scrutiny. OTOH, one needs to keep the name in front of people and I think a person of Musk's (or Ford's, Nash's or Olds') ego has to have a little P.T. Barnum in him. Apple Macintosh fans would overlook any behavior that Jobs would display (I know, I used to be one) because the product had been that good. Jobs lost control of the company and the product never recovered (Desktop computers, not the iPhone. The iPhone is another thing entirely, but not the point here). If history repeats itself, I imagine the same thing will happen to Tesla. Maybe Musk will be smart enough to hand it over to some real whiz-kids once the company build-out is complete. Maybe not. But for now, I'm definitely interested in seeing what's coming.

  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Jun 18, 2018

    Geozinger above has a point if one were to IGNORE The outrageous expenditure of time and resources by Elon Muskrat on things that have nothing to do with batteries and automobiles. It goes without saying that it is right and just to lambast this jerk for not concentrating his resources on building vehicles which people have put deposits to purchase. And let's not be kind to Muskrat for building poor quality products and passing them off as acceptable. Even the most koolaid drunk Tesla Model 3 owner will tell you how great their car is except for poor panel fits, things that don't work, or how they fancy they are driving a BMW just because they paid BMW prices for a car that is no better than a Chevrolet Cruze. Seriously - and then these fools put ceramic coating on their paint thinking it will save it (anyone who has ever learned about paint knows the last thing you do to it is to seal it - paint must flash or you'll dull the paint). I'm sorry, the time to give Muskrat a pass is over - he's the one bragging and going off into different tangents without delivering on his promises.

  • Analoggrotto Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes around a mustang owner would know this will be in insta-hit.
  • FreedMike Interesting time capsule.
  • 6-speed Pomodoro I had summer and winter tires for a car years ago. What a pain in the butt. You've permanently got a stack of tires hogging space in the garage and you've got to swap them yourself twice a year, because you can't fit a spare set of tires in a sportscar to pay someone else to swap 'em.I'd rather just put DWS06's on everything. But I haven't had a sportscar in 8 years, so maybe that's a terrible idea.
  • ShitHead It kicked on one time for me when a car abruptly turned into my lane. Worked as advertised. I was already about to lean into the brake as I was into the horn.
  • Theflyersfan I look at that front and I have to believe that BMW and Genesis designers look at that and go "wow...that's a little much." Rest of the car looks really good - they nailed the evolution of the previous design quite well. They didn't have to reinvent the wheel - when people want a Mustang, I don't think they are going to cross-shop because they know what they want.